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Bible Commentaries
Psalms 50

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


A Psalm of Asaph.

This psalm fitly follows Psalms 49:0, both from its didactic style, and its call upon the people for attention. Comp. Psalms 49:1; Psalms 50:7. In the former the Church is warned against fear or complaint at the prosperity of the wicked and the sufferings of the righteous; in this they are reproved for a formal religion to the neglect of a vital one. The former rebukes an envious longing for this world, the latter a disrelish for spiritual things. Its exposition of the true import and spirit of acceptable worship unfolds the true gospel of the Old Testament.

Psalms 50:1-6, introduce God as sitting upon the throne of judgment, and the covenant people arraigned before him; Psalms 50:7-15 are a rebuke of the delusion and emptiness of a merely ritualistic worship; Psalms 50:16-23, contain a warning to such as live in secret immorality while they profess to be God-worshippers.


Asaph A numerous family bore this name, of whom the father, a Levite of the family of Kohath, 1 Chronicles 6:39, was chosen to be one of three master musicians. 1 Chronicles 15:17; 1Ch 15:19 ; 1 Chronicles 25:1-2. He was a man of distinction as a poet, musician, and “seer.” 2 Chronicles 29:30. The family flourished in the days of Jehoshaphat and of Hezekiah. 2 Chronicles 20:24; 2 Chronicles 29:30, and after the captivity, Nehemiah 7:44. Twelve psalms are ascribed to Asaph, of which the fiftieth is the first, the others standing in a group in the third book of the Hebrew Psalter, namely, Psalms 73-83. They are distinguished as models of didactic psalms, with a vein of prophecy, and an ample retrospective view of the providential history of the nation.

Verse 1

1. The mighty God, even the Lord, hath spoken Hebrew, God, God Jehovah, hath spoken. The psalms of Asaph are Elohistic. The name “God” appears ten times in this psalm, the name “Jehovah” once. This accumulating of titles is not to give a turgid exordium, but to make a solemn impression of the judicial summons, Psalms 50:4-7, for the trial of his people. The titles mark a gradation in the sense, אלהים , ( Eloheem, God,) plural, the pluralis excellentia, being more emphatic than אל , ( el,) the Mighty One. As if he would say: “The Almighty, the most awful God, Jehovah,” etc. The fundamental idea of the first two titles is that of almightiness, the second being intensive of the first; that of the last is self-existence.

Called the earth All nations, all mankind.

From the rising of the sun מזרח , ( mizrahh,) east, where it stands opposed to west, as here, denotes the extreme east, the sun rising, that is, the extreme part of heaven, as מבוא , ( mahboh,) going down of the sun, does the extreme west, which, according to Hebrew ideas, represented the utmost boundaries of the world east and west.

Verse 2

2. Out of Zion The seat and source of supreme authority.

Perfection of beauty Not to be taken physically, but morally, as the abode of God. Psalms 48:2

Verse 3

3. Is an allusion to Leviticus 10:2; Numbers 16:26. See Psalms 97:3.

Tempestuous Like the terrifying scenes of Sinai, Exodus 19:16. Compare Psalms 18:8-14

Verse 4

4. The heavens… the earth These are summoned as witnesses, as Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 30:19

Verse 5

5. Gather my saints “My saints” are here defined as those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice. This “covenant” is recorded Exodus 24:7-8; comp. Hebrews 9:19-20. It was national, solemn, perpetual, sealed in blood, and comprehended all of God’s revealed will, and now God is to judge whether they have fulfilled it.

Verse 7

7. Hear, O my people The court and witnesses being called, (Psalms 50:1-6,) the case is now opened. The charge is, that they had backslidden in heart, lost the spirituality of their religion, and their worship consisted only in empty forms. Compare Revelation 2:1-5. In Psalms 50:8-13 God is not to be understood as condemning their forms, as such, but only their substitution of forms for vital and heart piety. They had merged the spirit in the letter, the substance in the shadow, and thus their heartless worship became a lie. Comp. Matthew 23:23

Verse 13

13. Will I eat the flesh of bulls Such gross ideas of worship as linger in the mere forms, as if God delighted in them, arise from gross ideas of God, and this is the source of corruption in all heathenism and false religions.

Verse 14

14. Offer unto God thanksgiving “The calves of the lips,” says the prophet, Hosea 14:2, which the apostle calls “the sacrifice of praise to God,” Hebrews 13:15. The Hebrew reads: Sacrifice to God a todah. The todah was a praise offering, one of the species of “peace offerings,” described Leviticus 7:11-15, the fundamental idea of which was, thanksgiving to God for reconciliation, or peace, with him. So, also, the next line pay thy vows refers to the “freewill offering,” another species of “peace offering,” described in Leviticus 7:16. It was an offering which the individual had freely and voluntarily assumed. The idea of the text is, that to offer to God, from the heart, thanksgiving and praise, and to heartily fulfil their covenant vows, the things signified by the external sacrifice, is the real requirement and intent of the law, without which the form is only empty mockery. Compare 1 Samuel 15:22-23

Verse 15

15. Call upon me… I will deliver thee Acting upon these instructions, and meeting the spirit and intent of the law, your prayers will be acceptable and will be answered.

Verse 16

16. But unto the wicked Hither-to God has addressed and judged the dead formalist the blind Pharisee. He now speaks to a class who add to the hypocrisy of ritualism an immoral life, still holding the profession of the covenant people of God.

Verse 17

17. Instruction… words The first refers to discipline, the last to verbal revelation; the one is designed to nourish and enlighten, the other to govern, the man. Compare “nurture and admonition [instruction and discipline] of the Lord,” Ephesians 6:4. Both are treated with hatred and contempt by the class now addressed.

Verse 18

18. Thou consentedst A charge of complicity and participation with civil wrongs and personal vices. These things they did covertly.

Verse 19

19. Mouth to evil… tongue frameth deceit Wholly given to lies. Their business is to devise deceitful pretexts for unlawful gains and lustful pleasures.

Verse 20

20. Thou… speakest against In Psalms 50:19 they are seen framing “deceit,” now it comes out into public slander.

Thine own mother’s son In polygamous countries brothers have not always the same mother. Here the idea of a common motherhood as well as fatherhood marks the closest relation, and the crime of alienation and slander is thereby aggravated.

Verse 21

21. I kept silence The delay of judgment caused them to infer that God took no judicial notice of their sins. Thou thoughtest, etc. Here is the common delusion of sin. The more corrupt the heart, the less sinful will sin appear; and such persons form their estimates of the divine character by comparison with themselves.

Set them in order before thine eyes The setting “in order” is a judicial opening and arranging the case, as to law, fact, and testimony. See Job 13:18; Job 23:4. When God shall do this “every mouth shall be stopped, and all the world become guilty before God.” Romans 3:19

Verse 23

23. Whose offereth praise Sacrificeth a todah, or peace offering, because he is reconciled to God. (See Psalms 50:14,) That is, whose “offereth” heart-felt thanksgiving with the accustomed peace sacrifice, uniting the form and the spirit. This stands opposed to the formalist, Psalms 50:7-13.

Ordereth his conversation Hebrew, his way, that is, his daily moral life. This applies reprovingly to the immoral class, Psalms 50:16-22. Thus, to worship God in spirit and truth, and to regulate the moral life according to the divine law, will alone assure “the salvation of God.”

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Psalms 50". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/psalms-50.html. 1874-1909.
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